Walking In Billy McNeill’s Footsteps | A Special Trip To Estadio Nacional

Billy McNeill Estadio Nacional

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This week, on the fifth anniversary of his passing, I found myself walking in the footsteps of the greatest Celt of all time.

Monday, 22 April marked half a decade without Billy McNeill, but for anyone of a Celtic persuasion, his influence and inspiration are never really far away.

It’s now almost 57 years to the day since he and his teammates reached the pinnacle of European Football by winning the ‘Big Cup’ in Lisbon. In doing so, they immortalised themselves in Celtic history.

For some, like my Dad and others of his generation, it still feels like yesterday.

So for us to then have the experience of being in the very arena where it all took place was truly incredible, and something that none of us will ever forget.

Walking through the tunnel, taking the same steps that Billy took to lift the trophy, and gazing at the goals where Tommy Gemmell and Stevie Chalmers created history are once in a lifetime experiences.

And though all of us will take time on such occasions to think of those who are no longer with us, I’ll be eternally thankful that I was able to do so this week with my family.

The Estadio Nacional will forever hold a special place in the hearts of Celtic fans as it represents the place where the hopes and dreams of so many before us were realised.

For a group of players born within 30 miles of Celtic Park to overcome the very best that Europe could offer is an achievement that still inspires us to this day.

A Sticker Depicting Billy McNeill Holding The European Cup Aloft At Estadio Nacional

Today, a bronze statue of McNeill holding the European Cup aloft sits at the foot of The Celtic Way and welcomes all who are making their way to Celtic Park.

For Celtic’s players, coaches and fans alike it’s a constant and permanent reminder of what it really means to have Celtic’s best interests at heart, and to give your very best for the club every time you have the opportunity to do so.

For this ‘Class of 2024’, the chance to mirror the League and Scottish Cup double that McNeill managed us to in 1988 is all there for the taking, and the challenge now is for Brendan Rodgers and his group of players to write their very own special piece of Celtic history.

To quote Isaac Newton, if they do so it will have been because they have been “standing on the shoulders of giants”.

And perhaps, the most giant of all.

They say Billy McNeill was the greatest Celt of all time. But I think we can all agree, he was better than that.

Hear more from us in the latest episode of The Celtic Exchange Weekly // The Stage Is Celtic For Celtic’s Season Finale

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10 thoughts on “Walking In Billy McNeill’s Footsteps | A Special Trip To Estadio Nacional”

    1. I dont know 100% Paul but have heard that its May of next year for the refurb. Chat is that they’re filling in the ‘missing’ part of the stand and putting a roof on.

  1. Myself, two sons and a friend done the visit last year. It was outstanding. I watched the game on a black and white TV all those years ago. Like you I was over overjoyed at the thought of walking onto that park, and the historic part it still plays at our club.

    1. Great stuff Thomas. What a place to visit, special memories.

      Showing your age with the black and white telly comment 😀 What a time that must have been to be a Celtic fan!

  2. Hi Tino. My daughter and I are flying out on the 25th May itself and what would have been, my late Dad’s Birthday. I am so looking forward to this first time visit in my 60th year! 🍀

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